Native Oyster Restoration
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play an important role in the ecology of estuaries by cleaning
the water through filtration, with each oyster being able to
filter pollutants from as much as 30 quarts of seawater an hour.
While at one time oysters were abundant in Richardson Bay, the
Forty Niners’ appetite for the delicacy along with silt deposits
caused by their mining in the Sierra foothills brought the native
oyster—the only one that can reproduce on its own in the Bay
waters—to the brink of extinction.
When scientists discovered a few previously unknown colonies,
they developed a theory that placing the shells of larger, commercially
grown oysters in the Bay would provide a place for the larvae
to settle and grow. The Tiburon Peninsula Foundation helped them
test the theory.
Volunteers from the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation and Richardson
Bay Audubon Center assisted Dr. Michael McGowan and Holly Harris,
a graduate student from San Francisco State, in placing pallets
of shells in six different locations by Blackie’s Pasture and
the Lyford House. After a few months, to everyone’s delight,
colonies of native oysters were growing!
The Oyster Restoration Project was a joint effort of The Tiburon
Peninsula Foundation, the Richardson Bay Audubon Center, NOAA,
Wildlife Forever, the Belvedere Community Foundation, and the
Town of Tiburon Public Works which provided the trucks to transfer
the pallets to the Audubon Center
The effort to restore the oysters continues and has expanded.
The Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary is looking at
settlement and recruitment inside and outside eelgrass habitat,
and at different depths, searching for habitat availability in
front of Lyford House and at Blackie’s Pasture.
To learn more about their important work, visit The Richardson Bay Audubon Center’s
website at tiburonaudubon.org